Friday, 18 August 2017

Theatre’s sign bid turned down

PLANS to install an illuminated sign at the Kenton Theatre in Henley have been rejected by South Oxfordshire district councillors.

PLANS to install an illuminated sign at the Kenton Theatre in Henley have been rejected by South Oxfordshire district councillors.

Trustees of the New Street theatre applied for a 3.7m x 60cm burgundy aluminium sign to be placed above the canopy, supported by decorative brackets in the same colour.

Members of the council’s planning committee visited the theatre on Monday and at a meeting on Wednesday rejected the application by eight votes to two.

The trustees say they will appeal.

Planning officers said the proposed sign was too large and would harm the historical nature of the area, although a conservation officer said there were “exceptional circumstances”.

Henley Town Council had recommended refusal following a complaint by a neighbour.

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said the Kenton didn’t rely on passing trade as it was the only theatre in Henley.

She said: “Once the most effective way of advertising was a sign but it has an online booking facility which accounts for the majority of its business.

“We feel it’s unneighbourly, inappropriate and unnecessary and against planning policies.

“It’s unfortunate that it has come to this because the town council is very supportive of the Kenton but just unhappy with this particular planning application.”

Ruth Gibson, honorary secretary of the Henley Archaeological and Historical Group, said the theatre could have a large hanging sign like a one used by the Rose and Crown pub in the same street.

She said allowing one illuminated sign could lead to a flood of similar applications from businesses in the town.

Wendy Bowsher, managing director of the Kenton, said the plans respected the Grade II listed building and conservation area. She said the sign couldn’t be reduced because a highways officer had said smaller lettering could pose a hazard to drivers.

Mrs Bowsher said the theatre received only four objections from residents, adding: “No Henley trader has refused to sign our petition and all emphasised the importance of the theatre in attracting tourism and promoting the economy in Henley.”

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